Toughie 2814 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Toughie 2814

Toughie No 2814 by Hudson

Hints and tips by crypticsue

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BD Rating – Difficulty *Enjoyment ****

Hudson provides some much needed cheer on a grey and chilly Wednesday morning

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1a    Master Thomas quietly tucked into cold joint and last beer (11)
CHIPPENDALE The musical abbreviation meaning quietly ‘tucked’ into the abbreviation for Cold and a joint of the body, a synonym for last and some beer being added at the end

10a    The Queen entertained by regularly shooing a bird (5)
HERON The regnal cipher of our current Queen ‘entertained’ by the regular letters of sHoOiNg – the one in the picture was on our neighbour’s roof last May when Mr CS and I were getting all the fish out of our pond in order to replace the liner.  His wait was in vain!

11a    Busy ring road before ultimately arriving at border (3,6)
RIO GRANDE The national border between the US and Mexico is obtained from an anagram (busy) of RING ROAD followed by the ultimate letter of beforE

12a    Drink tea, freshly brewed, cuddling husband (completely clueless) (2,3,4)
IN THE DARK An anagram (freshly brewed) of DRINK TEA ‘cuddling’ the abbreviation for Husband

13a    Nothing fair about mounted combat (5)
JOUST An adjective meaning fair goes ‘about’ the letter used to represent nothing

14a    Knocking back rough spirit, note: it packs quite a punch (6)
KARATE A reversal (knocking back) of a strong alcoholic drink made in Asian countries (rough spirit) followed by the seventh note of the tonic sol-fa scale

16a    Saving Rosie, charismatic dashing blade (8)
SCIMITAR ‘Saving Rosie’ indicating the need to remove an informal term for tea (Rosie being the Cockney rhyming slang for tea) from chaRISMATIC and then an anagram (dashing) of the remaining letters will produce a blade

18a    French writer/artist is collecting Bartok (8)
RABELAIS The ‘usual’ abbreviated artist and IS (from the clue) ‘collecting’ the Christian name of Mr Bartok, the Hungarian composer

20a    Excellent senior copper, bravo! (6)
SUPERB An abbreviated senior policeman and the letter represented by Bravo in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet

23a    Loo roll’s first thing hoarded by retiring Yankee celeb (5)
PRIVY The first letter of Roll ‘hoarded’ by a reversal (retiring) of an abbreviated celebrity and the letter represented by Yankee in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet

24a    Fresh-looking English vicar backed eco-friendly politician (9)
EVERGREEN The abbreviation for English, a reversed (backed) abbreviated vicar and an eco-friendly politician

26a    Peron chap returns, conjuring up memories (9)
EVOCATIVE A reversal (returns) of Mrs Peron and a slang word for a man (chap)

27a    Miami godfather embracing pal from Cuba (5)
AMIGO Hidden in (embracing) miAMI GOdfather

28a    Hairy Bikers hewed rocks (11)
BEWHISKERED An anagram (rocks) of BIKERS HEWED


2d    Cup-winning England striker injured tackling a winger from Spurs (5)
HURST A synonym for injured ‘tackling’ one of the outside letters (winger) of Spurs. Was I the only solver this morning to say ‘they think it’s all over!’?

3d    Bet concealing information is bitter (7)
PUNGENT A bet ‘concealing’ a slang word for general information

4d    Material dredged from canal after clearing away a lock? (6)
EARWAX Apart from saying ‘yuk’ (I was eating my breakfast while solving), I decided that this was a cryptic definition clue, the ‘clearing away a lock?’ meaning that you might have to clear away a lock or two of hair before doing the ‘dredging’

5d    Former Met boss eating pork roast; a delivery from Rugby (4,4)
DROP KICK The surname of the former head of the Metropolitan Police ‘eating’ an anagram (roast) of PORK

6d    Heap praise on physical training? That sounds novel! (4,3)
LORD JIM Homophones (sounds) of a verb meaning to praise and a familiar term for physical training combine to give the title of a novel by Joseph Conrad

7d    Thin-skinned psychoanalyst spellbound, so to speak (6-7)
SHRINK-WRAPPED An (originally US) slang word for a psychoanalyst and a homophone (so to speak) of an adjective meaning spellbound

8d    EU’s blunt, angry, direct (8)
UNSUBTLE An anagram (angry) of EUS BLUNT

9d    Eccentric Tory PM Boris failing to crush new opposition is exhausted (5-8)
HEATH-ROBINSON The surname of a former Tory Prime Minister, an anagram (failing) of BORIS into which is inserted (to crush) the abbreviation for New followed by the outside letters (exhausted meaning emptied) of OppositioN

15d    Religious teacher not about to waste words (6,2)
RABBIT ON A religious teacher and a reversal (about) of NOT

17d    In real time, Sunak’s mostly irritable (8)
LIVERISH Happening in real time followed by most of the Christian name of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr Sunak

19d    Make Candid Camera by all turning up trousers (3,4)
LAY BARE Hidden in reverse (turning up … trousers) in camERA BY ALl

21d    Improve film classifications, dare to change (7)
UPGRADE Two classifications for films and an anagram (to change) of DARE

22d    Niche vacation (6)
RECESS A niche or alcove and/or a vacation

25d    Cream cheese at last for those on a diet? (5)
ELITE The last letter of cheesE and an adjective used to indicate that food or drink is low in calories and suitable for those on a diet


37 comments on “Toughie 2814

  1. Just a smidge more challenging than Jay’s back pager but just as enjoyable – **/****.

    Candidates for favourite – 1a, 18a, and 7d – and the winner is 18a.

    Thanks to Hudson and CS.

  2. Agree with you, CSue – 1* problematicalness (?) but several more for enjoyment. Loved the Hairy Bikers! Thanks Hudson + CS.

  3. The sense of achievement is somewhat numbed by the * rating. However, I have completed both crosswords for the first time. Ta to all.

    1. Do not lose faith. Tuesday and Wednesday Toughies are traditionally “easy” but that is a relative term in Toughieland. We have all stumbled over what some consider 1*, and I’m sure many have whistled through a Toughie which has been graded 4 or 5*. Wavelength is all I’ll say.

    2. I believe CS has a different rating system for Toughies compared with the one she, and others, use for a back pager.

  4. I really enjoyed this. It was nicely challenging and good fun except for 4d in which I thought “clearing away a lock?” was rather bizarre.
    As someone who is follicly challenged, I assumed there would be some explanation other than something to do with hair, but CS has come to the same conclusion as me.

    My top three were 5d, 7d & 19d.

    Many thanks to Hudson and to CS.

  5. Superb puzzle that was very enjoyable (although there were a few clues which made me wonder how our non-UK solvers would manage). Many thanks to Hudson and CS.
    I ticked 1a, 13a, 26a and 7d but my favourite was the brilliant 9d.

    1. Except for 9d, Gazza, I managed the proper names–the various allusions in 2, 5, & 7d–with the help of checking letters and then Googling to be sure of the persons referred to. I did know about the striker but the other two gentlemen were news to me. In each case, the clue was most fair, I thought. 9d took me a while, though, and I agree: quite brilliant.

  6. What a wonderful, clever, amusing crossword! We’re being utterly spoiled today, with one of the best backpagers in a while, and one of the best Toughies in an even longer time.

    Such clever cluing, and laughs aplenty. No specialist knowledge required, and the cluing was eminently fair. I think we’ve had 7d recently (or am I thinking of The Times, maybe?) and as Sue commented else-thread, one of those unusual days where the same answer appears in almost the same place on the same day for the two puzzles. Could nominate most of the grid for Hon. Mentions, but will limit the laurels to 16a, 18a, 26a 28a, 5d, and 15d, with COTD to 6d.

    2 / 4.5

    Very many thanks to Hudson, and also to CS for the review.

  7. Super stuff thanks Hudson.
    Like others I wasn’t entirely convinced by 4d but I guess that he wanted to get both canal and lock in as misdirections.
    Thanks to CS as always but only for the pictures as all parsed for once.

  8. Just the job for a grey day and I can’t see beyond 7d for my favourite, really made me laugh.
    10a also made me smile – RD will doubtless remember playing ‘hunt the 10a’ which fortunately had a happy outcome due to the diligence of staff at The Swannery.
    Thought we might have had a pic of the Hairy Bikers at 28a – what a pair of characters they are! Probably too much to expect a pic of the male artistes at 1a…………

    Thanks to Hudson and to CS for the review

      1. I trust that he/she has gone on to enjoy a happy life but hopefully one that doesn’t involve an urge to revisit your pond!

  9. It took me a while last night, before and after Jimmy’s delicious spaghetti dinner, to complete this marvellous Toughie, being held up at the very end by 9d, but I suddenly remembered that it had appeared not too long ago (in another Toughie maybe?). Otherwise, to reply to Gazza’s query, for this non-UK solver, it was a delightful, quite doable work of art for me. 6d was the first Joseph Conrad novel I ever read, and the beginning of a great literary friendship, but I think I’ll pick an anagram+ as my favourite for a change, with 11a reminding me of my first trip into Mexico, in my old VW pop-top camper. Thanks to CS and Hudson. A very happy, satisfying finish for me!

  10. Lovely stuff and great fun. Faves were 16a, 7d,9d and 19d.
    Many thanks Hudson and CS.

  11. I agree with the general consensus: not especially difficult (a hair – but not a whole lock – more than the back page), but lots of lovely clues. I quite liked 4d, personally, parsing it as CS does. Yes, lots of anagrams, of which my favourite is certainly 28a because it’s a lovely word, but my favourite overall is 18a because I felt very pleased with myself for getting it straight away. Oh dear, I suppose I shall have to go to confession for the sin of pride now. I warmly echo thanks to setter and blogger, both of whom always delight.

  12. No problems with the very British references as sometimes, I feel I never really left.
    Conrad was in Hyères in 1921 and his last novel came from there.
    The furniture makers and the politicians were also known to me.
    A very pleasant crossword that took less time than the back page.
    Thanks to Hudson and to CS.

    1. Conrad really got around, didn’t he, J-L? I see that The Rover came out in 1921, three years before he died in Canterbury, at his home there.

  13. Enough straightforward clues to give a toe hold for getting the harder clues making it a very satisfying solve. Favourite was 18a, even though I hadn’t come across the writer before I followed the instructions and checked the word I came up with and the he was. Thanks to Hudson and CS.

  14. A nice puzzle for an afternoon solve.

    Favourite was 7d, but I didn’t much like 4d or 8d.

    Thanks to CS and to Hudson for the puzzle.

  15. As usual Hudson delights. Thank to him for doing so. Thanks also to CrypticSue for explaining 16 across. My daughter is a Rosie but not a Rosie Lee and I couldn’t be arsed to sort what other letters needed to be removed from charismatic to leave the letters that formed the answer. I was also indebted to CrypticSue for the whys and wherefores of 19 down. If in doubt as they say. The corners I cut on non blogging days

  16. */*** for me today, quite a breeze. Not bowled over by anything in particular, but the whole puzzle was for me of a high standard.

  17. We had of course never heard of the people required for 2d and 5d. We got them the wordplay but a somewhat unsatisfying result for those ones. Plenty of other clues though that we did enjoy with the last two to fall being 4d and 11a.
    Thanks Hudson and CS.

  18. Very enjoyable indeed and just the ticket after sitting through a three hour speed awareness course on Zoom…or should I say “Gloom” .
    Didn’t parse 14 or 16a and had to look up Bartok but I had the rest of this superb offering.
    Liked several including 1&26a plus 5,6(natch)9,15&17d.
    Many thanks to Hudson and CS for the top notch entertainment.

  19. Took me a while but I’m always slower in the evenings. Thoroughly enjoyed this. Thanks to Hudson and CS.

  20. Really enjoyed this especially the rather naughty clues. What gave me the idea that Hudson was female?

    1. Here’s a photo of him with Elgar taken back in November 2018 after the Times Crossword Championships

      1. Thankyou. I hope he is not offended by my comments. It’s the light naughty touch that confused me

        1. I’m confused now – why can’t gentlemen setters provide crosswords with a ‘light naughty touch’?

          1. I don’t know. It’s just that our men setters seem to be a bit more earthy! I’m not complaining. I’m in awe of all of them,

  21. Late finish here – and it has been covered but I agree, an approachable toughie that is only a Tad harder than the back pager today.
    Thanks to Hudson and CS.
    (currently reading The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, Is anyone else doing the same? I am at that 15 pages in stage wondering if it is worth persevering)

    1. Well, I did try it, John, but gave up when the dream-fantasy element became repetitive and–perhaps it was my overthinking–predictable. It certainly has captured the imagination, however, of a large body of readers over here; it remains high on our NYT Best Seller list. You ought to try Cloud Cuckoo Land, by the way.

  22. Did this one in dribs and drabs through the day, but my best guess is 1.5*/4* today.
    Favourites include 11a, 23a, 5d, 9d & 15d with winner 9d … but runner up would be 5d
    Good fun for a Toughie IMHO

    Thanks to Hudson and CS

  23. Hopelessly late but busy day yesterday and wanted to say how very much I enjoyed the crossword Mr Hudson. Started last night in bed and finished now over breakfast- I finished it all except for 2d but I guess it is Hurst. Never heard of him! Loved 18,26 and 27s and 7 & 9d. Thanks to all.

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